Comics News
Who Should Take Over Writing Duties on Detective Comics?
By Dan Horn
July 2, 2012 - 11:05

DC Comics

The long-time writer/artist on Batman (Volume 1) and Detective Comics (Volume 2), Tony S. Daniel, has recently announced that he will be relinquishing his control of Tec with issue 12 in order to pursue other projects. It's more likely that he was kindly asked to leave, given his work on Batman's tentpole books has been controversial in that its quality is suspect, derivative, and wildly inconsistent. DC has yet to reveal which creator(s) will be replacing Daniel on Detective, but whoever takes up that cross ought to do his damnedest to definitively distinguish his work from any semblance of Daniel's if Detective is to see a turnaround in readability. In the spirit of wild speculation, I've compiled a list of writers that I think would be perfect for the job.

10. Stephen King

Ok, so, this one's a pipe-dream, which is why I've put it at number ten, but I've previously postulated that Stephen King's involvement in serialized Batman graphic novels would prove to be the cash cow DC has been fishing for over the past decade. Having King, who has already been involved in writing comic scripts for American Vampire, write Detective Comics would at least be sure to push Tec to the top of Diamond's charts.

9. Joe Hill

Maybe this is less of a pipe-dream. King's son, Joe Hill, has his father's literary prowess, but has the benefit of being a comic book mainstay, between his critically acclaimed The Cape and Locke and Key, for years. Hill's dark, twisted storytelling and knack for insightful character study would gel perfectly with Batman, his supporting cast, and his Gothic-revival environment and would bring quite a few new readers into DC's fold.

8. Fabian Nicieza

Fabian Nicieza hadn't gotten off to a great start in the New 52, resigning from his only ongoing, LEGION Lost, which hadn't been met with many positive reviews, but his underperformance could easily be chalked up to the rampant editorial problems in post-retcon DC or Nicieza's packed schedule. He's proven his writing chops before, and he was working on a particularly engrossing Ragman back-up in Batman: Streets of Gotham before that book was cancelled, leaving his Ragman saga unfinished. Perhaps putting him at the helm of Detective Comics would see Fabian return to his element.

7. John Arcudi

When G.I. Combat was first announced many months ago, John Arcudi was reportedly attached to the book, penning scripts for a new Haunted Tank feature. Arcudi hasn't been included on the series as reported, though, and I'm wondering if he's been tapped by DC for some other work, like writing Detective Comics perhaps, or maybe his Haunted Tank is just waiting on deck. Arcudi is a comics veteran, known for his work on Dark Horse's antihero The Mask, which inspired the Jim Carrey movie of the same name, and an extensive collaborative relationship with Mike Mignola that has produce a vast catalog of B.P.R.D books. It occurs to me that writing the Mask might have been pretty great training for writing the Joker, and the darkly fantastic, weird subject matter Arcudi explored in B.P.R.D. might translate very well to the esoteric locale known as Gotham City.

6. Joshua Hale Fialkov

Echoes was a comic book that I can only describe as haunting, and that Image miniseries also made me keenly aware for the first time of Fialkov's mastery of smart suspense. His short stint on Superman/Batman only further instilled in me that impression, and I, Vampire has been a surprise hit under his supervision. Let's see what Fialkov can do to reinvigorate Detective.

5. Cameron Stewart

Not all artists can be serviceable writers, no matter how hard they might try. Case in point: Tony Daniel. Cameron Stewart, however, is of a rare breed of phenomenal artists that can also write their way out of a wet paper bag. His writing chops may have gone under the radar for many fans of his artwork in Batman and Robin and Seaguy, but since 2007 Cameron has been weaving an intricate mystery webcomic, Sin Titulo, that reads like Stanley Kubric handling scripts for the defunct television series Lost. It's fantastic, really, and puts Cameron Stewart on my short list of prime candidates to take over Detective.

4. Paul Dini/Dustin Nguyen

One of the heydays of Detective Comics (Volume 1) included a long run by Batman: The Animated Series veteran Paul Dini, often joined by brilliant artist Dustin Nguyen who quickly became a darling of the comics community. Their fantastic Batman: Streets of Gotham series met an abrupt and untimely end, shortly before the DC relaunch, suffering from a final muddled arc due to the time crunch. I'd love to see Dini and Nguyen get another crack at Detective, and I'd especially like to see how they'd handle a rebooted Bruce Wayne.

3. China Mieville

Mieville, an award-winning and renowned author, sort of got the short end of the stick with the obscure DC title Dial H for Hero. Granted, he had expressed personal interest in tackling the book's goofy and esoteric subject matter, but as his first published outing in comic books, it seems destined to go largely unsung even if the actual quality of Dial H is above par. Through his phenomenal novels, like The City & The City and Embassytown, Mieville has exerted a keen wit and penchant for noir prose stylings tempered with dark fantasy. Pairing China and Detective Comics would be a match made in heaven.

2. Mike Carey

With the close of his fan-favorite run on Marvel's X-Men: Legacy, Carey's really taken a step back from comics to focus on family and his star-reviewed prose. Sure, the Eisner-winning The Unwritten is still going strong, but I've always felt that Mike, with his flare for occult gravitas and intelligent mystery, would make a perfect Detective scribe. He even spoke with me about his lost Batman script at one time, meaning he's already got some idea of how he'd handle a Batman arc. It's about time we saw this Vertigo alum do some work on DC's mainstream heroes, or at least on Detective Comics. At San Diego Comic Con, he'll be announcing some new work he's got lined up, so keep your fingers crossed.

1. Kurt Busiek

As Mr. Busiek convalesces after recent surgery, I figured I'd send him some good vibes by rereading his Thunderbolts and Avengers runs (more on these later in Backissue Retrospective). During the experience, I realized how much I missed this Eisner- and Harvey-winner's work. If anyone knows how to revitalize a comic book after a controversial relaunch, it's got to be Kurt. It feels like it's been quite a while since we've enjoyed his stellar writing, and I can't think of a better return to comics for a creator of his caliber than taking the reins of the flagship DC title, Detective Comics.

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